Motherhood greets us with new challenges on the daily. Take vegetables for example. Why is it so hard to get our kids to eat them rather than throw them across the room at their siblings in a fit of defiance? Does that happen to anyone else?
I remember nights during my own childhood sitting alone at the table staring at a pile of my least favorite vegetable—lima beans—as the clock ticked away toward bedtime.
Whether your kids are in the former vegetable throwing group, or the latter—staring down a plate of veggies group—how do we break the veggie aversion?
Here are some strategies to help motivate your kids to eat more veggies at mealtime:
1. Give them a name
Have some fun with vegetable dishes by giving them a name. Doesn’t a sound so much better than your basic spinach smoothie? How about if that green lantern smoothie gave your child super powers? Maybe your child isn’t into super heroes. Try calling broccoli florets little trees in an enchanted forest that grant magic to your fairy tale loving kids.
2. Hide them
Sometimes you just have to straight up hide them and hope they don’t figure it out. On my son’s 9th birthday I delivered a pan of brownies to his third grade class. As I handed them to my son he asked, “Wait a minute, do these have spinach or zucchini in them?” He paused and looked at his classmates and exclaimed, “She does that sort of thing all of the time.” Publicly busted. What he did not tell his classmates was that he actually .
So next time you whip up a pan of brownies sneak in pureed sweet potatoes, pumpkin, spinach or shredded zucchini.
Cauliflower is currently having its moment in the spotlight. This is an easy vegetable to puree and add to mashed potatoes, smoothies and pizza crusts. Also, the next time you are making a pasta dish shred some carrots, zucchini or squash and add them into the sauce.
3. Take shape
Hands down, a kid is going to choose a French fry over a carrot stick, so why not transform veggies into a such as chips, fries or noodles? Popular choices for chips and fries are root vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, carrots, beets and parsnips. Other options are zucchini and kale.
Kids love their pasta, am I right? Instead of regular pasta noodles try your hand at a spiralizer and turn zucchini, carrots, butternut squash and the like into noodles and top with your child’s favorite pasta sauce. The good news is that most grocers are starting to sell fresh vegetable noodles in the produce department so you won’t have to do the work.
4. Involve them
Get your kids involved in the process. If you garden, let them dig in the dirt (side note: this has an added benefit of improving their gut health), plant the seeds, and pick the veggies. They will be so proud that they grew the food and will be more likely to want to eat what they harvested.
No garden? No problem! Take them to the store and let them pick out the produce. You can also let them choose recipes and do easy vegetable prep such as washing veggies for a salad or mashing bananas for banana bread.
5. Set a good example
6. Stick with it
You may feel like you want to stop trying, but you’ve got this! It can take as many as 10 introductions before your little one for a new food. Keep offering the broccoli and eventually your child will be okay with it.